I’m interested in low-cost, low-power servers and have been watching the emerging market for these systems since 2008 when I wrote CEMS: Low-Cost, Low-Power Servers for Internet Scale Services (paper, talk). ZT Systems just announced the R1081e, a new ARM-based server with the following specs:

· STMicroelectronics SPEAr 1310 with dual ARM® Cortex™-A9 cores

· 1 GB of 1333MHz DDR3 ECC memory embedded

· 1 GB of NAND Flash

· Ethernet connectivity


· SATA 3.0

It’s a shared infrastructure design where each 1RU module has 8 of the above servers. Each module includes:

· 8 “System on Modules“ (SOMs)

· ZT-designed backplane for power and connectivity

· One 80GB SSD per SOM

· IPMI system management

· Two Reatek 4+1 1Gb Ethernet switches on board with external uplinks

· Standard 1U rack mount form factor

· Ubuntu Server OS

· 250W 80+ Bronze Power Supply

Each module is under 80W so a rack with 40 compute modules would only draw 3.2kw for 320 low-power servers for a total of 740 cores/rack. Weaknesses of this approach are: only 2-cores per server, only 1GB/core, and the cores appear to be only 600 Mhz (http://www.32bitmicro.com/manufacturers/65-st/552-spear-1310-dual-cortex-a9-for-embedded-applications-). Four core ARM parts and larger physical memory support are both under development.

Competitors include SeaMicro with an Atom based design (SeaMicro Releases Innovative Intel Atom Server

) and the recently renamed Calxeda (previously Smooth-Stone) has an ARM-based product under development.

Other notes on low-cost, low-powered servers:

· SeaMicro Releases Innovative Intel Atom Server

· When Very Low-Power, Low-Cost Servers don’t make snese

· Very Low-Power Server Progress

· The Case for Low-Cost, Low-Power Servers

· 2010 the Year of the Microslice Servers

· Linux/Apache on ARM processors

· ARM Cortex-A9 SMP Design Announced

From Datacenter Knowledge: New ARM-Based Server from ZT systems

e: jrh@mvdirona.com

w: http://www.mvdirona.com

b: http://blog.mvdirona.com / http://perspectives.mvdirona.com